Outdoor festivals are a chance for music lovers to relax and enjoy entertainment with friends. But behind the scenes, armies of workers labour to build and maintain what amounts to an ‘instant city’.

From July 21 to 23 Splendour in the Grass was held at the Parklands at North Byron Bay. It attracted 47,000 people per day and boasted three performance stages, a DJ dance area called Tipi and a camping ground that held 20,000 people.

This was the third consecutive year that Coates Hire has had the contract to provide most of the infrastructure requirements of Splendour in the Grass. Because the 660-acre venue is also available for other events, Coates Hire had just three weeks to set up the small city for the needs of almost 50,000 people, including power and dwellings. There was only four and a half days allocated to pack up the entire temporary infrastructure and return it to parklands after the event.

“Splendour in the Grass is a major project for us,” says Coates Hire Project Manager for Installations Events, Brendan Woods. “It’s not only large but has tight turnaround deadlines, so we spend months in planning and preparation and fine-tuning it with the organisers.”

Woods says Coates Hire and the organising company, DSEM, operated under time pressure and the fleet of equipment had to be ready with an experienced group of Coates Hire people.

“During the installation we completed 270 truck movements, and every truck had to be offloaded and the buildings and generators properly located and placed,” says woods. “It had to be properly managed and co-ordinated so we had to get it right the first time, and that meant professional planning and using experienced people.”

Woods, says the Splendour event is one of the biggest of its kind in Australia and Coates Hire supplied most of the infrastructure, including 137 buildings, 92 lighting towers, 71 generators and 37 pieces of major plant, including boom lifts, scissor lifts and a 45-tonne crane required to install 86 of the buildings. The buildings were used for dressing rooms, administration offices, accommodation, security and the back-stage areas, and the lighting helped to create a safe environment during night events and for the campers.

Coates Hire provided a turnkey solution for the major infrastructure, which meant refuelling the generators with 100,000 litres of diesel during the event, as well as providing 24-hour technical support for the generators, buildings and lights. A core group of six Coates Hire operators (including Woods) lived on-site during this period.

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